‘I would rather invest in my own country’
The fashion designer has a clear vision: fashion ‘made in Senegal’. She is aiming to promote the country’s textile sector by training and employing young people and women. She set up a community of interest, supported by the bilateral GIZ project Successful in Senegal.
How did you launch your career in the fashion industry?
I had already done evening courses in fashion design in Paris and had a flourishing business importing clothing and accessories. That’s when I realised I would rather invest in my own country. I got together with a dressmaking school in Dakar and created 25 jobs in my atelier TOUTY. We have been manufacturing made-to-measure and prêt-à-porter garments for the African market since 2015.
How did the Successful in Senegal project support you?
I joined forces with other Senegalese fashion and jewellery designers. We share the cost of premises, purchases and training courses. In 2019, GIZ advised us when we were setting up our community of interest, called Atelier 221, and organising pop-up stores.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the textile industry particularly hard. Has it been the same for you?
All boutiques had to close during the 2020 lockdown, so Atelier 221 joined the nationwide campaign ‘1 Sénégalais, 1 Masque’. We were able to arrange for the production of 300,000 face coverings, securing work for 600 people in the process. GIZ bought masks worth a total of EUR 15,000 from us.